Home to the deepest lake in Japan, Lake Tazawa, Akita is often described as
“the land of beautiful water”. Its geographical location and heavy snowfalls
provide an abundance of clean water, making Akita an ideal place for certain
crops to grow including local specialty, Junsai. Note! This is a special buy-in - only 33 packets in stock!
About Junsai and its habitat
Junsai (Brasenia or watershield in English) is a kind of perennial water plant that grows in shallow ponds and swamps (80 cm-1 m depth). It has long been a part of the Japanese food culture, and its earliest reference dates back to the Manyoshu, the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry. Junsai is harvested during summer from May to early August, June being the peak-season. The leaves have a close resemblance to lotus leaves, and the buds are coated in a gelatinous substance. It is considered a delicacy in many parts of the country.
Since more than 90 percent of junsai is made up of water, the quality of water is crucial to its existence. It can only grow in fresh, unpolluted water in areas where the natural habitat has not been damaged. Akita is one of the few places that has a sustainable cultivation.
Usually Junsai are quite small but we have found special Junsai that are 5-7cm in diameter.
How to prepare: Drain the junsai discarding the liquid from the package. Briefly rinse to remove the vinegar (used as a packing liquid). Be careful not to wash away the jelly clinging to the leaves as this texture is highly prized. Drain, and eat as is, or use as called for in any recipe.
Recipes using Junsai:
Plain with dipping sauce (mix soy sauce and wasabi and lemon juice), with mayonnaise,with prawns, add to wet vegetable salads, as decoration, great in dashi stocks with chicken or fish (remember to add last minute!!)
Often used in desserts in Japan too.